The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaks frowardness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)What is acceptable.—To God and man. (Comp. the gracious words which proceeded out of Christ’s lips, Luke 4:22.)
Speaketh frowardness.—Rather, is mere falsehood, misrepresentation. (See above on Proverbs 8:30.)
frowardness—all kinds of deceit and ill-nature. The word is plural.Know, to wit, practically, so as to consider and speak. Knowledge is here ascribed to the lips, as it is to the hands Psalm 78:72, because they are conducted by knowledge and wisdom.
What is acceptable to God and good men, or what is truly worthy of acceptation; for this is opposed to what is froward or wicked in the next clause.
but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness; or perverse things, as before. Or, "the mouth of the wicked knoweth frowardness" (b); or perverse things; or is used only to speak froward things; things contrary to truth and righteousness, and which they know to be so; their mouth speaks things contrary to their hearts; their hearts and mouths do not agree, when they both flatter and lie.The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)32. speaketh] So R.V. text: “is,” R.V. marg. Others supply the verb “knoweth” from the first clause, as in Proverbs 10:29.Verse 32. - Know. A good man's lips are conversant with what is acceptable to God and man. Such a person considers what will please God and edify his neighbour, and speaks in conformity therewith. The LXX. has," The lips of the righteous distil graces;" ἀποστάζει χάριτας, but probably the right verb is ἐπίσταται, which is found in some manuscripts. Speaketh frowardnsss; rather, knoweth, or is perverseness (comp. Ephesians 4:29); Septuagint, ἀποστρέφεται, or, according to the Sinaitic correcter and some other scribes, καταστρέφεται, "is turned aside," or "is overthrown." Delitszch translates, "is mere falsehood."
As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes,
So is the sluggard to them who gives him a commission.
A parabolic proverb (vid., p. 9), priamel-like in its formation (p. 13). Here and there לשּׁנּים is found with Mugrash, but in correct texts it has Reba-magnum; the verse is divided into two by Athnach, whose subordinate distributive is (Accentssystem, xi. 1) Reba-magnum. Smoke makes itself disagreeably perceptible to the sense of smell, and particularly to the eyes, which it causes to smart so that they overflow with tears; wherefore Virgil speaks of it as amarus, and Horace lacrimosus. חמץ (from חמץ, to be sour, harsh) signifies properly that which is sour, as acetum, ὄξος; here, after the lxx ὄμφαξ, the unripe grapes, but which are called בּסר (בּסר) (vid., under Job 15:33), by which the Syr., here following the lxx, translates, and which also in the Talmud, Dema i. 1, is named חמץ, after a doubtful meaning (vid., Aruch, and on the other side Rashi), thus: vinegar, which the word commonly means, and which also accords with the object of the comparison, especially if one thinks of the sharp vinegar-wine of the south, which has an effect on the teeth denoted by the Hebr. verb קהה, as the effect of smoke is by כהה (Fl.). The plur. לשׁלחיו is that of the category, like Proverbs 22:21; Proverbs 25:13; the parallel אדניו of the latter passage does not at least make it necessary to regard it, like this, as a plur. excellentiae (Bertheau, Hitzig, Ewald). They who send a sluggard, i.e., who make him their agent, do it to their own sorrow; his slothfulness is for them, and for that which they have in view, of dull, i.e., slow and restrained, of biting, i.e., sensibly injurious operation.
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